As technology advances at an astounding rate, we can really get into forecasting higher education and where we will be going world-wide in the next decade or so. I found the following infographic to be extremely interesting and it told a huge story - more than a full blog post would be able to. I suggest you click on the image to enlarge it in order to be able to read the writing as it is rather small currently!
Just as I was ending my medical degree at the University of the Witwatersrand in Joburg, Problem-Based Learning (PBL) was all the rage throughout the medical education establishment. It led to the establishment of the Graduate-Entry Medical Programme at Wits, which was modeled on the same program at the University of Sydney.I just wanted to give a brief overview as to what PBL is.
1. Knowledge in contextWhat I mean by this is that the learning that is done is done in the context in which it should be put into practice. In medicine, this would mean learning, for example, cardiovascular diseases while doing cardiac ward rotations. The key is to connect what you are learning theoretically with what you are being exposed to practically.
2. Knowledge in multiple roles and perspectivesIn a group environment, it is essential to experience as many different roles as possible. When I do my Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support courses every two years or so, each of us rotates through each role when we are practicing a resuscitation of a specific type of case. In the Academy that I did my last course, the classes are typically only about 10 to 12 students in size - just enough for each person to play a specific role during each practice of a resus. We would practice the same resus 12 times, but we would change over each time so that we would each get a chance to have a go each role. I can tell you something - it worked brilliantly. At the end of the course, the team leader was the one being marked on each resus, but the comforting thing was knowing you had the support of your team, and you had practiced each type of resus so many different times.
3. Knowledge is structured by the teachersAt critical times in the learning process, teachers provide essential structure and scaffolding to the whole Problem-Based approach, enabling the students to make better use of the time and resources available. Left to themselves, students can quickly vear off at a tangent, so guidance and structure is essential. These are just three quick points about Problem-Based Learning to get you started thinking about the concepts. Are you enrolled in a Problem-Based Learning program? Please share your stories....
Does school really prepare you for life? Does it really prepare you for college? For the corporate world? For entrepreneurship? No. Schools should be closed. Should they?Here are 11 reasons why they should be closed and something better put in their place.
UniformitarianismOn the whole, the individuality of the school student is ignored, and they have to be measured against some sort of standard. The standardized test is now the Golden Child of decisions made for college admissions, loan approvals and the granting of scholarships. Where is individuality?
IndustrializationThe schooling system is still geared towards an industrialized society. But we are no longer living in an industry-only-driven society. Machines have replaced human beings in most cases in factories. School-leavers are heading out into a work-force that is geared towards entrepreneurship and technology, not industry. The typical 9 to 5 is disappearing.
DiversityWe live in a world where there is so much more diversity now. Job descriptions are expanding exponentially. The different types of university and college degrees that you can get nowadays boggles the mind. Each major discipline has more and more options available to incoming students. It seems like a graduate's degree is out of date the moment it is printed on the paper and handed over at graduation.
Unscientific approachesDespite all the new evidence of how the student's brain actually works, hundreds of schools, thousands of teachers, and many curricula are geared towards teaching children and teens and young adults in the old ways. A whole generation of British school children were taught according to their "learning type" only to have the myth of the learning type exposed in the last few years. This new evidence must be looked at and actually used. In medicine, if we find a particular medication is very effective for treating high blood pressure, we don't wait for thirty or forty years to start using it (after it has gone through all phases of it's trials), we start using it immediately. But, in education, when new evidence shows us how we have been teaching incorrectly, it takes a whole generation before the education establishment changes! This condemns a whole generation to sub-standard education!
ArtificialityMost examinations are such artificial environments. Rattling off lists parrot fashion is ludicrous. Fortunately, we have seen great progress in this area in the past decade or so. The more advanced you get, the deeper the examination tests your understanding of your work. But, the exam itself is practically often such an artificial system. There really are few real-world equivalents. Of course there are going to be exceptions in some of the professions - medicine, accounting and so on - but in general, there really are no real-world equivalent situations.
The Lost ArtsIn the new systems, we have also lost some of the essentials of the older education systems. Previously, the education system was well thought out. The foundation of the entire system was the Big Three : Logic, Grammar, Rhetoric. This was called the Trivium. Oh, the school authorities try to assure us that this system is out-dated and that their programs are much better, but I firmly believe that having a firm grounding in the Trivium in school is essential. But it could be applied in a uniquely twenty-first century way.
New semester series part threeHow do you get yourself back up and running again in the new semester? Your exams were good, bad, indifferent or a mixture. You're happy, sad, or an unusually complex combination of both. Here are seven keys to help motivate yourself to get back into study mode again.
Start smallStart with baby steps. Don’t expect yourself to be able to dive right back into maximum study mode and volume. Plan a gradual build up of your study program in terms of time and effort. But don’t use this as an excuse to stay walking like a baby.
Work in batches of 15 to 20 minutesTake 5 to 10 minute breaks. Study for 15 to 20 minutes. Learn in batches of between 3 and 9 facts. Take a half hour break every 3 hours.
Keep yourself well hydratedIt doesn’t matter if you need to run to the bathroom fairly regularly. Keep yourself hydrated. Only use coffee if your system is used to coffee (long-winded medical explanation forgone again). Use fruit as part of keeping yourself hydrated. This includes citrus, mangoes, pineapples, and watermelon.
Don’t study on a full stomachMost of your blood will be re-directed to your gastro-intestinal tract in order to digest your food, especially if the meal was rich. Rather eat light meals such as salads with low-fat dressings, and tuna.
Make your study habits consistentDo something every day for thirty days and it will stick for life. Well, almost. There is a truism in this. Be consistent. Discipline in study will serve you well in the real world in any case.
Try deal with emotions before you studyI know this sound may sound a tad unrealistic, but the more emotional baggage you bring to your study desk, the less you effectively you will study. Find your study “Zen”, whatever that might be - go and rake some Japanese garden sand or something.
But use emotions in your studyingNo, I’m not contradicting myself. What I mean is you must try bring emotion into the actual material you are studying to make it memorable. The difference is that the previous point was made to prevent you from letting outside emotion interrupt your studying. Do these help you focus? Please let me know if you have any others.... Some related articles 88 Surefire Tips for Succeeding in College 50 Tips for College Students College Dorm Checklist & More
New Semester Series Part Two.One of the hardest things about getting back to university or college is having to deal with failed exams. How on earth can they help you? Fortunately, they can, and if you attack them with the right attitude, they will help you. I'm going to show you three ways that you can use failed exams to help you improve your grades.
It forces you to be honest with yourselfI know, this one sucks and you are going to hate me for saying it! Sorry to hurt your feelings, but, a failed exam does force you to start asking questions of yourself. And this is a good thing! Don't view this as a bad thing! The only way you can improve is by learning from errors and correcting them. You will need to start asking yourself questions like "Were my study techniques for that particular exam and subject-type correct?" For example, I wouldn't be using pictures to memorize information when you are preparing for a practical Accounting exam where there are going to be doing a lot of calculations and formulae-application. So, ask yourself questions about your preparation for that exam. This includes an excellent revision timetable correctly formulated right from the start!
Take advantage of your professorsContrary to what you may believe, your professors and lecturers (with a few exceptions) actually want you to pass and do well. And when a student shows up at their door genuinely asking for help, and showing diligence, they will be more than willing to help. You will be amazed at how few students do this, and you will also be amazed at how willing your professors are to help you out. Remember, they were once students just like you. They DO remember the stresses involved in studying and taking exams. Approach them. I can almost guarantee you they will be very glad to help you. BUT, don't expect them to just give you quick solutions - you are still going to need to work hard - but their help will be invaluable
Take advantage of the "boffins" in your classThis has to be done very diplomatically. Identify those in your class who have done very well. Depending on how well you know them, see if you can glean any information from them about how they were able to do well in their exam. Some of the really clever student tend to down-play their marks, others deliberately hide their techniques because of their own insecurities and desire to be top of the class, so you need to "walk on egg-shells"! But try make head-way and see if any of them can help you. You never know! These are also the people that often don't think in the normal pattern of thinking. They truly do think "outside the box" and their approach will stretch you beyond what you thought possible. Go with the flow! It is well worth it! I hope these help you.I've got some more coming up in the next post. Any more suggestions?
New Semester Series Part OneThe dorm rooms are still smelling musty, and dusty. Your hayfever has flared up again because of it. The mental cobwebs have grown in all the corners of your mind. Your exams from the end of last semester are in the distant past - especially if your 3 or 4 week vacation was one non-stop party. You may be suffering from the Mother of all hang-overs even. But, the question remains, are you ready for the new semester?
It's time to blast those cobwebs away by asking and answering some important beginning-of-the-semester questions."
a. Am I repeating any subjects?This is extremely important because it will drastically increase your workload. Sometimes courses are only one semester long but if you failed the exam, and your university system is such that they don't have supplementary exams, then you may need to repeat the subject in the second semester. If not, check to see when your supplementary exam is - it might be next week! Panic stations!
b. Has my timetable changed at all?This needs to be sorted out quickly. I will be going into this in a bit more detail in subsequent posts, but it is essential that you find out whether your timetable has changed - and that included the venues! Some universities don't have much change between semesters, whereas others have drastic changes between semesters. Make sure you are on top of either eventuality, and prepare for it!
c. Is my life organized?It's one thing to have your academic timetable sorted out. It's another thing entirely to have your life organized. Michael Hyatt, whilst no longer a student, recognizes the need to create more margin in his life (that's jargon for "the opposite of overload"). Head over to his website there and download his weekly schedule. You may find it useful. I developed my own version of a weekly planner based loosely on Stephen Covey's Weekly Worksheet which you can download here.
d. What do I need to revise for the new work that I am about to begin?This is often neglected. You rush into the new semester forgetting that for most subjects, there is a flow to them from the previous semester into the new one and that there is a logical sequence in the way the whole program has been designed. Thus, it is a really good idea to revise your first semester's work briefly. Read through your notes and if you still have your exams, look at the questions again to get an idea as to what your lecturers considered to be important. This will often give you clues as to what to look out for in the first few weeks of the new semester.
e. Do I have sports lined up?Healthy, and it builds team spirit. Sport is very important in the life of the student. I remember when I studied at the University of Natal whilst doing my Science degree, almost every single Saturday, summer or winter, rain or sun, a bunch of us met to play touch rugby. Even during the height of summer - and believe me, Pietermaritzburg in summer can be hot! It can easily reach 40 to 45 degrees Celsius! But it was so important. Also, when I was in Pietermaritzburg, I didn't have a car, so I cycled everywhere. So I was super-fit. But, having said all that about sport, if you choose to do formal sport, just don't let it interfere with the ultimate goal of being at university, which is to pass! That kicks off a new series on The New Semester. Stay tuned!
Social MediaCathy Davidson and David Goldberg in their book The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age suggest that social media is deeply embedded into our culture now that "participatory learning as a practice is no longer exotic or new but a commonplace way of socializing and learning". So, social media is going to be an integral part of future learning. Homework assignments, websites to research amongst other uses.
InternetWe all know Al Gore did not "invent" the internet, and his fanatical adherence to his very own religion of Global Warming (despite definitive proof that the mean temperature in Antarctica has been dropping by 0.7 degrees Celsius per year over the past 15 years and that the glaciers in the Himalayas are growing, not shrinking - but I'm going off on a tangent!) is questionable. The internet is going to affect learning in two significant ways. First, increasingly, knowledge is becoming more and more freely available. And not just any type of information, reputable information. Reputable universities such as Yale have made many introductory courses available free of charge, but not for course credit......yet. edX is a collaboration between M.I.T. and Harvard, and in their own description they say
An open-source online learning platform that will feature teaching designed specifically for the web. Features will include: self-paced learning, online discussion groups, wiki-based collaborative learning, assessment of learning as a student progresses through a course, and online laboratories. The platform will also serve as a laboratory from which data will be gathered to better understand how students learn. Because it is open source, the platform will be continuously improved.Interestingly enough, in 2009, Davidson and Goldberg in The Future of Learning said
The future of conventional learning institutional is past - it's over - unless those direction the course of our learning institutions realize, now and urgently, the necessity of fundamental and foundational change.The second reason the internet is going to change education as we know it is because the internet has changed the way we think. We assume that if we don't know something, we can "Google it", or check it up on Wikipedia". As a result, we are losing our ability to integrate knowledge to solve problems in real life. This is where circumspection and care needs to be taken in the way that online courses are introduced, and we need to be given in depth instruction in how to integrate knowledge properly. This is where collaboration and participation comes in in the form of social media.
Global ReachI like to believe in the philanthropic side of people, and when I read through the reasons for the creation of programs like edX, it warms my heart to think that Harvard and M.I.T. are wanting to reach the world with their quality education. Never before has such accessibility been possible. In Christian circles, we already have instant access to tens of thousands of sermons, thousands of books and manuscripts. Dr John Piper at Desiring God Ministries has made almost all of his books free of charge at his website here. One of Christianities deepest contemporary thinkers has made literally thousands of hours of hard labor of writing freely available. His ability to reach a global readership for the glory of Jesus Christ is unparalleled. The same can be said for people such as Dr John MacArthur, Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, Al Mohler, and my own pastor, Dr Clint Archer, amongst many others. around the world.
Shifting working environmentsWe are moving from a predominantly industrialized economy in the West to an information-driven working environment. In the USA, the industries used to be the main driving forces behind the economy, but now the information and education fields are set to take center-stage. The expectations of these changing working environments are set to change as well. Experience and less formal "qualifications" will carry more weight than they currently do. The certificates received from courses done through edX, for example, will become far more valuable than they will be initially. Formal degrees will still be valuable, but continuing education will be emphasized more and more.
CostsThe costs of formal education at the major universities and colleges are rising drastically. I have been a qualified medical doctor for almost ten years now and I am still paying off my student loan - I still have about 30% of it to pay off. Our Obstetrician was chatting to us about a month ago and he was saying that here in South Africa it is so expensive for a newly qualified O and G set up a private practice. They need to buy at least one Ultrasound machine costing around R1.5 - 2 million ($250-300,000); a more detailed ultrasound scanner for high-definition scanning at double that price; office equipment including computers, chairs, desks, examination couches, instruments etc; hiring staff; sometimes buying into rooms at a hospital; and their malpractice insurance here in South Africa is in the region of R250,000 per year! They have to pay staff salaries. And they have their own student loans to pay off as well. Compare that to someone who can start an online business while in high school, save money from that, expand that into creating multiple online businesses, and then take free online courses in linguistics, writing etc, and by the age of 25 have published a book, written thirty apps, three of which have sold more than 50,000 and become a millionaire. Brendon Burchard is an example of something like this. He went from being flat broke to making $4 million in 24 months. I highly recommend his book Millionaire Messenger.
HOWEVERI'm going to give you a twist in the tail. Personally, I think that universities and colleges will adapt rapidly and that they will continue to be centres of academic excellence. Already schools are starting to implement experimental changes and coming up with very good results. One such example is Flex Academy in San Francisco. True, this is high school and not university, but things are already under way. The school structure is still there. There are still teachers, "classrooms", assignments, tests, grades, assessments, and the parents can follow their children's progress much better than in a conventional schooling environment. But they are adapting to the future. Perhaps one day I shall write a post describing my ideal university................
first person is a young lady who is a patient of mine who is currently in Grade 12. She does exceptionally well at school and is applying to study medicine next year, despite my warnings! Recently she came to see me for a Medical Certificate as part of her application to study at the University of Cape Town Medical School, and we were chatting about studying and about Schooled for Life. I was telling her about teachers at school force pupils to learn their subjects in very specific ways. And so I asked her how she did so well academically at school (because I had noticed the vast number of academic - as well as sports and extra-mural activity - badges on her blazer). Before I could even finish asking the question, she said "I ignored the teachers and studied everything my own way." I was so taken aback. Here was a bright young woman who had found out one of the keys to learning that has just been discovered in the latest research, and is one of my S4L Principles. The second person is one of the best orthopedic surgeonsI know, Dr Richard Roloff (his rooms are in Hillcrest Private Hospital, outside of Durban, South Africa). This last Thursday morning I was assisting him in theater with a knee replacement, and during the procedure I asked him he studied at university. He laughed and said that he crammed the night before and seemed to brush off the question a little bit. I know him, and that was his way of being quite modest about something, so I persisted a bit. So he said that he found that if he studied for weeks or months before the exam, he would forget the information and get so stressed that he would fail badly. But, he found that the day and night before an exam, he was so relaxed and was experiencing so little stress that he could study literally five to ten times more than anyone else could in the same period of time. His Amygdala was perfectly calm and ease. He walked around and read aloud. The information went from his senses through to his Amygdala. Now, because they were so calm, the information literally flew through them deep into his long-term memory. So, how can you take these two peoples' stories and start using the information gleaned from them right now. Let me give you three ways you can not just think outside the box, but break the box down altogether. 1. Ignore teachers and lecturers when they tell you there is only one way to learn their subject. But I must add a disclaimer here. Sometimes, sometimes, there is only one way to learn a particular subject, but these are very few are far between. Who says you can't use Rap music to learn Chemistry formulas? Who says you can't draw crazy cartoons for Mathematics? Who says you can't write new words to your favorite songs to learn soil strata? 2. Start linking the things you love doing with subjects you don't like. I love history. So, when I was studying and cramming right towards the end of fifth year, I invaded Russia as you can read here. If you love modern dance, make up a quick dance routine that links the information you are learning with that routine. If you love drawing cartoons, convert each of your main points into a crazy image and turn them into a crazy cartoon. 3. Try write your main points with your other hand.If you are right-handed, try writing your learning material left-handed, and vice-versa. You will be amazed at how much you will remember, because you will laugh at yourself so much during the whole process! So, instead of that sinking feeling in your studying, your box will start breaking. Enjoy the feeling! Let me know your stories of how you have broken the box below.....One hundred years ago on the 15th of April, RMS Titanic sank. By far the majority of those who died were men. The strictly held moral norm in those days was the maxim "Women and children first". But this type of absolutism has disappeared from our current culture. But there are a few absolutisms that do remain today. The one absolute in current schooling is that high school students must learn each subject in specific ways that each teacher ordains. You don't really have a choice. Each teacher tells their students how they must learn their particular subject. But, I'm going to give you some radical advice. CHOOSE THE SHIP! But I promise, in your case, you won't sink. I'm going to show you two examples of people who didn't follow what was expected of them and who have done amazingly well in their academic lives. They are each on the two extremes on the age scale of studying. The first is in Grade 12, the other is in his late forties and a practicing orthopedic surgeon. Both of them didn't just think about doing things differently, they did things differently and blasted their way through to academic success. The
Yesterday we looked briefly at some reasons why Mindmaps (C) can be good for your studying. Now let's dive head-first into the murky rock-pool waters of 5 secrets to Bad Mindmapping. 1. Use only one color. C'mon people, monochrome is an art-form for Fine Arts graduates, photographers and hipsters sitting in their penthouse Park Avenue Apartments sipping Skinny Latte'! Not for Mindmapping! 2. Use computer software that was designed in the 1980's. The free versions of Mind Manager are not worth it!If you are going to use computer software, fork out the bucks and make it worth your while! For your studies' sake, and your sanity's sake, those archaic factory-line monstrosities must go the way of the T. Rex! 3. Make every mindmap look the same. This is the best way to ensure that you get so confused that when asked the diagnostic criteria of Major Depressive Disorder, you write : "Morning sickness, breast tenderness, lack of a menstrual period and a positive ß-HCB blood test!" 4. Never use any images. Because, like, y'know, a picture is never worth... Oh well, whatever. Oh yes, and our Occipital lobes are really really tiny. Yip, that's it. 5. Start drawing without planning first. Either you end up trying to squeeze 95% of the information into the top left corner of the page, or you put all your information in the top right corner, leaving the rest of the page blank. And you will forever remind yourself what an idiot you were for not thinking ahead when you study that section.